COLUMBIA — For Missouri freshman guard Phil Pressey, setting up an alley-oop has become second nature.
Even though an alley-oop brings the crowd at Mizzou Arena to its feet, Pressey says it feels normal to him. When looking to set up an alley-oop, Pressey said he likes to keep things as simple as possible.
No. 11 Missouri (17-3, 3-2 Big 12)
at No. 7 Texas (17-3, 5-0 Big 12)
WHEN: 8 p.m.
WHERE: Frank Erwin Special Events Center, Austin, Texas
RADIO: KTGR/100.5 FM, 1580 AM
TV: ESPNU (also viewable on ESPN3.com)
When Missouri tips off against the Longhorns, the Tigers will have another shot at grabbing their first conference road win, this time against the only Big 12 team without a conference loss.
"They're one of the hotter teams in the country. Not in the league, but in the country," Anderson said.
The Longhorns lost three games earlier this season, two of which came from teams now ranked highly in the AP Top 25 Poll (No. 2 Pittsburgh and No. 5 Connecticut).
"They're battle tested. I think they played some teams early on, took a couple bumps early on. To their credit, their kids have really responded in a positive way. They're playing well together," Anderson said.
Since the start of conference play, Texas has been unbeatable. Last week, the Longhorns defeated then No. 2 Kansas in Lawrence, Kan. It was the first time Kansas had lost at home in 69 games. The win left Texas standing alone at the top of the Big 12 standings.
On Monday, Anderson said taking on the team at the top would be a test for his players.
"We haven't won a game in conference play on the road. So, Texas gives us the next opportunity to do that. Right now, they're at the top of the race, the conference standings at this point in time. So, it's the ultimate challenge. More than anything else, I think you find out a little more about your basketball team," Anderson said.
ON THE BLOG: Tony Mitchell officially enrolled at North Texas
Step one: Find the open teammate
After bringing the ball up the court, Pressey looks at which of his teammates are behind the defense and which are capable of hitting an alley-oop. If there is a teammate standing on the outside, and it is one that can dunk the ball, than Pressey knows he has a potential alley-oop.
“You have to know who you’re throwing too because Laurence (Bowers) is a lot different than Steve (Moore)," Pressey said. "If they tell me earlier in the game that they want an alley, then I’ll try to throw it to them.”
Pressey then paused to think for a moment.
"It would definitely be a lot harder to throw an alley to Steve than Laurence,” Pressey said while laughing.
Step two: Make eye contact
Pressey then makes eye contact with his teammate, who, in most cases, is Bowers. Pressey and Bowers don’t make a signal to each other, don’t wave their arms. A simple head nod from Pressey tells Bowers what is about to come.
“I look at Phil one time, and then turn and look at the lane, and he’ll know what’s going on from there,” Bowers said. “He just always knows where I’m at.”
Pressey said that a set-up pass for an alley-oop can come at any moment, so Bowers has to always be ready for him to throw it up.
Step three: Execute
Pressey’s last job is to lob the ball just to the side of the basket that Bowers is coming from. At that point, Bowers will run towards the hoop. Once Bowers gets from the outside into the paint, he jumps to the rim, grabs the ball out of the air and puts the finishing touches on the alley-oop with a dunk.
“Whoever I’m throwing it too can usually out-jump the guy, so I’ll take the athleticism over anyone else out there,” Pressey said.
After Pressey’s all-time favorite alley-oop to Bowers, the one that came in the Tigers' 75-59 victory against Kansas State on Jan. 17 at Mizzou Arena, Bowers summed up what it felt like.
"Coach (Mike Anderson) always wants us to run as fast as we can, but when you get an opportunity like that, that adrenaline makes you go faster than you can even imagine,” Bowers said after the game. “I was like ‘Uh oh, here we go.’"
The difficulty of an alley-oop
Pressey said the most difficult part of executing an alley-oop is the timing between players. But Pressey seems to have found the right touch. His brother and teammate, Matt Pressey says he has been setting up alley oops for a long time.
“He’s been doing that since he’s been playing basketball, at least at the high school level,” Matt Pressey said. “He can tell when guys are cutting to the basket and which guys can go up and get it. He’s not scared to throw it, you just got to go get it.”